In the month of April, there were several events that captured the world’s attention. Here are a few small glimpses that you might remember.
The recent eruption of the Eyjafallajokull volcano in Iceland proved, once again, that nature can have powerful impacts on the day-to-day lives of people around the world. The eruption delayed weddings, business arrangements, and travel plans of thousands of people from all corners of the globe.
Many had strong feelings about the delays they were unable to control. Airline companies, and some individuals, were agitated by the obstruction in their schedules; others took advantage of the opportunity for an extended vacation.
For many Icelandic citizens, that the volcanic eruption was a welcome diversion. The attention on Eyjafallajokull released some of the nation’s economic worries–at least temporarily.
Some Icelandic people were even quoted as saying that it was a gift from God, while others were just excited about witnessing such an impressive geological event. It seems the volcano has erupted emotions on all ends of the spectrum; it will be interesting to see whether there are any long term effects on people’s attitudes. This question of interactions between people and the environment is of primary interest to geographers!
Three months after the massive earthquake, many Haitians are still calling tents home and camps neighborhoods. Most children have still not returned to school; it is a nation in shambles. But, looking at the situation optimistically: Might the earthquake afford Haiti a chance for a clean slate? In my opinion, it is a perfect opportunity for geographers to get in there and show what we can do, through urban planning and other approaches to managing human and natural resources.
Citizens of the world have shown that, even with failing economies, they can still be generous with money, talent and time. New roads are being developed, structures are being rebuilt, and education is on the forefront of people’s minds in Haiti. Each of these advancements seems to be a step in the right direction. The question that remains is: Is there enough of a development strategy for this nation to succeed in the future, without sustained outside help from the international community?
The oil leak in the Gulf Coast has made many us focus on where–geographically and technologically–our energy comes from. Just Wednesday the federal government gave the green light for a wind farm to be developed off the Atlantic Coast.
Debates over wind turbines have blown around for years, weighing various costs and benefits, human and environmental interests. Wind power is clean and renewable, but more expensive than some other forms of energy production. Some Cape Cod residents and tourists view wind turbines as majestic additions to the natural landscape; others perceive them as undesirable eye-sores.
Lech Kaczynski, the President of Poland, was killed in a plane crash in Russia on April 10, along with his wife and 94 senior officials. Polish citizens mourned their leader following his sudden, unexpected death.
The plane landed in a location of geographic significance; the site of an event known as the Katyn Massacre. There, in what is now referred to as the Haunted Forest, many believe that several Polish officers were killed by the Russian tyrant Joseph Stalin.
The plane crash was believed to have been an accident free from political conspiracy, however; Russia even issued visas to Polish families that wanted to view the crash site for themselves.
For now, Poland may be electing Lech’s twin brother, Jaroslaw, to govern the country.
In Ukraine, parliament speaker Vlodymyr Lytvyn had to use an umbrella for deflecting more than just rain last week. A heated debate over the lease of a Russian naval base led disgruntled citizens to throw eggs and fists. The exchange would result in cheaper gas for Ukraine, a nation concerned about its long-term energy security.
Even with the outrage demonstrated by the people, the motion was passed with 236 out 450 votes. Who says that politics are boring??